What can we expect from the 2021 budget?
The chancellor is set to outline a three-point plan to support people through what the government hopes will be the final months of coronavirus restrictions.
He told the Cabinet that the pandemic “has hit our economy hard” and “we must be honest” about what that meant, but “we can be optimistic about the recovery”, Downing Street said ahead of the Budget announcement.
In his statement to the Commons, Mr Sunak will also announce further support for self-employed workers, with around 600,000 people – many of whom became self-employed in 2019/20 – now eligible for cash grants.
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said he was not expecting Mr Sunak to announce tax rises. “I expect some tax rises, but not this year, in the next two or three years,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Johnson attacks Starmer for defending ‘interests of people of Yemen’
The Mirror’s political correspondent Lizzy Buchan reports the following from PMQs:
Sam Hancock3 March 2021 12:23
Sunak to relocate hundreds of jobs from London to Darlington
Hundreds of jobs look set to be relocated from London to Darlington under Rishi Sunak’s Treasury North project.
In a video to his department’s civil servants, the chancellor said that after “a lot of thought and energy”, the new economic campus would be in the north east market town.
Mr Sunak said he was “really excited” about the decision, according to the recording of the message which has been shared on social media.
Civic leaders across the North had made overtures in recent weeks for the chancellor to send Treasury jobs their way and Darlington was among the favourite places for the move.
Mr Sunak’s huge Richmond constituency in North Yorkshire lies south of Darlington, which has strong transport links and voted Tory at the 2019 general election.
Sam Hancock3 March 2021 12:18
Why is furlough being extended until September?
Rishi Sunak will announce the extension of his coronavirus furlough scheme in Wednesday’s Budget.
The phased-out extension until the end of September will guarantee workers 80 per cent of their salaries, with employers set to contribute 10 per cent toward the total in July and 20 per cent in August and September.
But why is the scheme going to run beyond the end of the government’s lockdown-easing roadmap for England, which envisages the lifting of all social restrictions by 21 June?
Jon Sharman has the full report:
Sam Hancock3 March 2021 12:15
PMQs getting underway
Prime Minister’s Questions is getting underway in the Commons now.
It will be followed by Rishi Sunak’s budget statement to MPs at 12.30pm.
Tom Batchelor3 March 2021 11:59
Chancellor mocked over video of him telling children he is ‘coke addict’
Rishi Sunak has been mocked after a video resurfaced of him telling school pupils he is a “total coke addict” before clarifying he meant Coca-Cola and not cocaine.
In the footage, the chancellor can be seen telling two schoolboys: “I’m a Coke addict. A total Coke addict.”
Tom Batchelor3 March 2021 11:52
Sunak second favourite behind Starmer to be next PM – bookmaker
Rishi Sunak has odds of 2/1 to be next prime minister, bookmaker Betfair has said, placing him second favourite behind the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer.
Betfair spokesperson Sam Rosbottom said: “Rishi Sunak has one of the biggest speeches of his political career today when delivering the Budget, a speech which could make or break his chance of becoming the next PM.
“He’s currently a 2/1 shot behind favourite Labour leader Keir Starmer at 7/4.”
Tom Batchelor3 March 2021 11:47
Sunak signals tax hikes necessary amid ‘extraordinary’ borrowing levels
Rishi Sunak has sent a clear signal of tax hikes in today’s Budget, telling the cabinet that it would not be “right or responsible” for the government to ignore the fact that borrowing is at “extraordinary” levels.
Setting out his Budget plans to cabient colleagues shortly before addressing MPs in the House of Commons, Mr Sunak said he would use the package to provide support to help ‘get people through to the other other side of the crisis”.
But he warned that borrowing had risen to levels previously seen only in wartime and the government must be “honest” about the belt-tightening that would be needed to rein in debt.
Tom Batchelor3 March 2021 11:42
FTSE 100 rises ahead of Rishi Sunak’s Budget announcement
The FTSE 100 rose on Wednesday ahead of Rishi Sunak’s Budget speech in which he has promised to do “whatever it takes” to protect UK jobs and livelihoods.
The FTSE followed European and Asian markets higher, adding to rises earlier in the week.
London’s index of leading companies’ shares gained 1.2 per cent in morning trading to reach 6,691.85.
Housebuilders Barratt, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey were all up more than 3 per cent on news that the government would pump more money into supporting the housing market.
Tom Batchelor3 March 2021 11:30
Will chancellor boost green economy?
Rishi Sunak is expected to announce the introduction of “green” savings bonds in today’s Budget. But how else might the chancellor seek to boost the green economy?
Caroline May, partner and EMEA head of environment at global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, said: “On the environmental side it’s likely the government will want to announce stimulus measures for a green economy to further its plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, and hopefully there will be room for this amongst the short-term pandemic-related measures that we’ll likely see.
“With the G7 only a few months away, and COP26 in November, now is the time for the government to start delivering on its promises.
“Although a carbon tax has been long-anticipated by commentators, the government will at the moment want to look at stimulus packages as the economy recovers from Covid-19 and in the run up to COP26, so it is likely that instead there will be some form of tax incentives for green energy and infrastructure, green technologies and products and most importantly green finance.
“Further detail on the much anticipated National Infrastructure Bank may form part of these measures.”
Tom Batchelor3 March 2021 11:14
Treasury team inside No 11
The government has released a photo of Rishi Sunak with his top team inside 11 Downing Street.
The chancellor is shown posing with, from left to right, the chief secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, Kemi Badenoch, financial secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman, and economic secretary to the Treasury, John Glen.
Also in the photo are minister of state for efficiency, Theodore Agnew, PPS to Treasury, Claire Coutinho, PPS to the chancellor, James Cartledge, PPS to the chief secretary, Craig Williams and the government whip and Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, David Rutley.
Tom Batchelor3 March 2021 10:55